Tonight we introduce four new champions- and feature two cities whose teams toppled the regular season champs to get there. First, the unsettled battles.
In Switzerland, Kloten finally won a game four final match against Davos to stay alive, 3-0. Davos is still up 3 to 1 with the next game Saturday.
In Germany, Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg has built up a 3 to 0 lead on Kreffeld after 4-3 and 2-1 OT wins. The DEG Metrostars have a 2 to 1 lead over Eisbaren Berlin, with 3-2 OT and 4-2 wins sandwiching a 5-1 loss in game two.
When last we met the Czech Extraliga, Ocelari Trinic trailed Slavia Praha in their semifinal series and Vitkovice Steel led Pardubice Eaton 3 to 1. Trinec rallied for 6-1, 5-3, and 5-2 wins to defeat the team from Prague and move on to the finals against Vitkovice, who finished off Pardubice 3-2 in a shootout. The final series has been all Trinec thus far. Former NHLers Martin Ruzicka and Radek Bonk each scored in the 5-2 game one win; Peter Frolik handled 25 shots in a 2-0 blanking in game 2; and Frolik dominated Vitkovice with 31 saves and Ruzicka scored again in a 4-1 game three win and a 3 to 0 series lead, with the next (and possibly final) game Saturday.
In Austria, the final series between KAC and Red Bull Salzburg is notted at 2 to 2. Manuel Latusa of Salzburg scored once in a 6-5 game one loss, and twice in each of the 6-3 and 5-2 wins they got in games 2 and 3. But it was semifinal hero Tyler Spurgeon who scored 4 minutes into OT in game four for a 2-1 KAC win.
In Norway, Sparta Sarpsborg has pulled out to a 3 to 1 lead over Stavenger Oilers in their final series. After the 6-1 opener for sarpsborg in last week's game one, Martin Strand Felt scored twice as the Oilers dominated game 2 5-0. But it has come apart for Stavenger since then; Tommy Kristiansen scored all three goals of a 3-1 win in game 3 for Sarpsborg, and Dion Knelson netted a pair in a 3-0 shutout in game four. They play game five saturday.
Farjestad and Skelleftea won their way into the Elitserien finals. And they've already had a couple of wild finishes. Farjestad hit an empty net with 1:43 left in the game to go up 5-2 in game 1, but Skelleftea netted goals with 52 and 13 seconds left to pull within 5-4,the second Erik Forssell's second of the game. But Farjestad held them off to win that match. They did not fare so well in game 2, as Jimmie Ericsson scored at 17:55 of the second OT for a 3-2 Skelleftea win and a 1-1 series tie.
Blue Fox Herning could take the Danish championship with a win in Wednesday's game five. Another series notable for wild finishes, Frederikshaven took their only win so far 2-1 in game one. In game two, they cut a Herning lead to 3-2 with 3:07 left; Morten Poulsen's second goal of the game put the Blue Foxes back up 2 with 57 seconds left; Frederikshaven tallied again to cut it to 4-3 with 14 seconds remaining; but Herning held on from there to tie the series. In game three, Lubos Pisar had 21 saves and Herning scored twice in the last 2 minutes to win 3-0. Daniel Nielsen scored twice in game four's 5-3 Herning win that made it 3 to 1 with the next game coming up on the 13th.
In Finland, HIFK and the Blues each won their semifinal series 4 games to 1; That win for the Blues eliminates regular season champ JYP Jyvaskyla and sends third place HIFK into the finals Wednesday against a Blues team that finished ninth and had to win the play-in round robin just to make the quarterfinals.
In the KHL, Atlant finally knocked my Lokomotiv team out with authority, winning game six 8-2. Salavat Yulaev had a harder time, forced by Magnitogorsk into game sevn and a 1-0 series winner to go to the finals. They openned Friday with Andrei Kuteikin scoring on a power play after a last second Atlant penalty to end the game 2-1 Salavat at 1:43 of OT.
And now, the winners.
First, we have two regular season winners who double-tasked in the playoffs. The Dragons of Rouen
swept their way past Strasbourg, with Teddy DaCosta netting two in the 4-2 game three final. For Rouen, it is their second championship in a row, third in four years, and 11th overall.
In Slovakia, it was no surprise that HK Kosice would come out on top;
they dominated the final series against Poprad the way they dominated the regular season, winning the last two 6-1 and 4-1 to win the series 4 to 1. For Kosice that makes three championships in a row and 6 overall.
In the UK's EIHL, it was a real surprise. The semis and finals were one game affairs played last Saturday. Nottingham, the fourth seed at 34-20, eliminated season champ Sheffield 4-3 on Robert Lachowicz's goal 1:47 into OT and despite two Ben Simon goals. Cardiff knocked out defending champ Belfast 4-1, with Ryan Finnerty and Tylor Michel getting a goal and an assist each. In the final, it was David-Alexandre Beauregard scoring twice- once with Nottingham down 2-0 in the first and the second breaking a 4-4 tie with 8:56 left to give the Nottingham Panthers the English championship.
Founded in 1946, The Panthers of Nottingham are the only team that has played every year that a British title has been up for grabs.
Playing since 1998 in the National Ice Arena, cap. 6,500, they now have now three playoff championships to go with three season titles.
The home of the Robin Hood legends, Nottingham has a population of only about 288,000, but the ring of surrounding suburbs increases that to near 670,000.
Located in the central heart of England, it got its name from a Saxon chieftan named (and I am not making this up) Snot; and the town was originally known as Snotingaham. Captured by the Danelaw in 867, it was beseiged and taken by Richard Lionheart @ 1194 in his civil war with treacherous brother John. A famous lace manufacturer and home of three contestants for the "oldest pub in England", it is near to the remnants of Sherwood Forest. Though only 1.63 sq. miles remain, they contain Major Oak, a purported sanctuary of the Merry Men and purportedly 800- 1,000 years old.
In the Italian league, we thought we left with season champ Val Pusteria holding a 3 to2 lead after a 7-2 win in game five. But after that game, officials determined that the Wolves had two foreign-born goalies on the team, which is a no-no. The game became a forfeit and a 5-0 win for Asiago. Game six went into the 31st minute of OT before Asiago netted the winner and for the second year stole the championship from the season champ in the final.
Asiago's Vipers, founded in 1935, play in the 3,500 seat Stadio Odegar. This was their third championship and second in a row.
Asiago is a tiny town of 6,500 nestled on the high plateau of northern Italy once contested by the Italians and Austrians in WWI.
It is located about 50 miles west and north of Venice. Established sometime in the 13th century, it is a ski resort and the home of the Sacrarium; this tomb for the known and unknown dead of WWI holds the remains of some 54,000 Italian and Austro-Hungarian war dead. It became part of Italy in 1866, after the Austrian defeat by Prussia in the Seven Week's War.
And that is that for this week. Stay tuned for more champions crowned next week.